True or False?
In an area of such antiquity many stories have been passed down from generation to generation. How many of them are true and how many are merely the stuff of which legends are made is now impossible to say. Let us simply honour the past and say that in each and every story there is a grain of truth…
Between and behind the church and Widfordbury Farm stood an old ivy-covered ruin inhabited by bats, owls and small birds. Even today old people living in the village remember this ruin – and its demolition by a farmer. It was said to be a kind of dungeon and in the walls were several thick iron rings. Tradition says that prisoners were chained here during the Wars of the Roses – the great battles between the houses of Lancaster and York, fought from 1455 to 1487.
In the valley immediately behind the church, and on the far side of the valley is a field still known to this day as Standfast meadow. It is said that a battle was fought there between the Saxons and the Danes. There is also a tumulus, a “barrow” on that far side of the valley, where Barrow Farm still stands. It is said that the fallen Saxon and Dane warriors were buried the barrow. Old people in the village still speak of Dicky Hunt who farmed land here in the early nineteenth century. He wanted to level the barrow which was covering half an acre of his land. Each day cartloads of soil were removed and each day by the next morning the barrow had returned to its original size. He left the barrow unfarmed.
At the rear of the church, overlooking the valley, the churchyard was used for the burial of the unbaptised, suicides, gipsies and Muggletonians. All these and others were presumed to be left to the uncovenanted mercies of our Great Universal Father.
A fine old yew tree stands between the end of this “God’s Acre” and the rectory garden. Villagers avoided this burial place on account of the ghosts of the departed who were believed to haunt it, and also because will o’ the wisp really did occasionally frequent the valley and could be seen from thence.
The well-known story of “Babes in the Wood” was said to have originated from events in the woods near Widford. Close to “Babs Green” which is about half a mile from the church, stood a now demolished house, Blakesware, where the story of the Babes was carved over the mantelpiece, each figure “almost as large as life”.